Indians legitimate World Series contenders

It is an exciting time to be a Cleveland sports fan. Of course, we all know about LeBron James’ heroics in the NBA when he brought home the championship for the Cleveland Cavaliers. A team that has slipped under the radar, however, is the Cleveland Indians. After finishing in the middle of the division for the last three years, the Indians are having an incredible season this year. With a record of 76-56, the team finds themselves with a comfortable four-and-a-half game lead in the American League (AL) Central division over the Detroit Tigers.

Due to their first-half success, the Indians were buyers at the trade deadline, nearly acquiring coveted catcher Jonathan Lucroy from the Milwaukee Brewers. When Lucroy vetoed the trade, many thought the team was finished trading. That proved to be false, however, as they doubled down and acquired All-Star closer Andrew Miller from the New York Yankees. Miller has been incredible so far for the team with a 24:1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 14 and two-thirds innings.

For the first time in years, the Indians have legitimate World Series hopes. With a team earned run average (ERA) of 3.81, second best in the AL, their starting pitching has the talent to go far in the playoffs. The team’s star pitcher, Corey Kluber, is leading the rotation with a 15-8 record with a sterling 3.09 ERA.

The Indians also have excellent hitting. The team’s batting average (BA) is currently fifth best in baseball at 0.265, thanks to the contributions of shortstop Francisco Lindor, 0.313 BA, and third baseman and left fielder Jose Ramirez, 0.308 BA.

Even when their bats go cold, the Indians can still beat teams with their running skills. They lead the league in steals by a wide margin. Center fielder Rajai Davis leads the charge, already swiping 34 bags this year.

The combination of great pitching, solid hitting and excellent running should make any Cleveland baseball fan optimistic about the playoffs. The team is currently competing for the number one seed  in their league with the Texas Rangers. If they were to have the best record, the team would have home field advantage throughout the playoffs, including the World Series, if they were to make it that far.

Despite their success so far this season, the Indians rank third worst in fan attendance for baseball, with an average under 20,000. Though fans have started showing recently, the team hasn’t been supported like a contender. Once the city realizes the team is destined for the playoffs, fans will appear.

The Indians are showing that the Cavaliers aren’t the only Cleveland team that can win. Only time will tell if the Indians can keep up their remarkable season and perform once the playoffs come. In the meantime, fans can enjoy and experience a first place team for the first time since 2013.